Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks with Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) in the huddle during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Georgia Tech and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Georgia won 37-14.

News Joshua L Jones

No. 1 Georgia zeroes in on now, not next

Winning the SEC championship game Saturday guarantees Georgia a return trip to the College Football Playoff semifinals and a relative home game for the chance to play for the national title for the second time in as many seasons.

But the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs balance that forward glance with the reality check of what could happen if No. 14 LSU pulls the upset at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to rearrange the final CFP rankings.

“There’s no thought of the next step,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s such a long break between this step and next step. This is the culmination of a season. The next opportunity, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

The Bulldogs (12-0, 8-0 SEC) haven’t lost since the 2021 SEC Championship game, when Alabama needed a win to reach the semifinals and walked away with a 41-24 victory over Georgia.

LSU won five games in a row and climbed to No. 5 in the CFP rankings before losing to Texas A&M last week. The Tigers lost to Florida State in their season opener and to Tennessee on Oct. 8, then didn’t play to their season-long standard against the Aggies. LSU’s John Emery Jr. ran for three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.

Smart said the Tigers are more than capable of fitting the bill as spoilers. LSU’s marquee win this season was a 32-31 overtime thriller on Nov. 5 that sent Alabama into the national title picture periphery.

“They got a lot of talent, a lot of really fast, athletic players,” Smart said. “The skill level on both sides of the ball for them, great size, great speed. They got one of the most physical offensive lines we’ve played.”

Georgia has a lot of talent even after losing several starters to the NFL draft. The Bulldogs are No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense at 11.33 points per game and have won every game this season by at least a touchdown. The Bulldogs are giving up 2.97 yards per carry and are second in the nation with 79.5 rushing yards per game allowed.

The Tigers avoided a change at quarterback this week despite starter Jayden Daniels being banged up by the Texas A&M defense.

“He’s good to go,” Kelly said of Daniels, an Arizona State transfer who has 15 touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

LSU coach Brian Kelly, formerly of Notre Dame, faces Kirby Smart for the third time and is 0-2. This is the fifth time Georgia and LSU are meeting for the SEC title.

“We’re going to play a physical football team that has the style of its head coach. They’re going to play great defense. They’re going to be physical on both sides of the ball,” Kelly said. “I mean, everything’s going to come very difficult. Nothing’s going to be easy. You’re going to have to earn everything. Quite frankly, that’s the exciting part about it. You know what you’re going to get. … It doesn’t get any better than this.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (7) and head coach Brian Kelly celebrate after they beat the Florida Gators  at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LSU up to No. 5 as CFP rankings’ top four remain unchanged

Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU occupied the first four positions of the College Football Playoff rankings for the third straight week, with two-loss LSU claiming the No. 5 spot in the newest edition of the rankings Tuesday.

LSU and Southern California each moved up one spot to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. Alabama, Clemson, Oregon and Tennessee rounded out the top 10. Tennessee dropped five spots after its surprise 63-38 loss to South Carolina that featured a torn ACL to the Vols’ Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Hendon Hooker.

USC beat then-No. 16 UCLA in a 48-45 thriller Saturday, improving the Trojans’ record to 10-1.

USC’s only loss came in October on the road at Utah, currently ranked No. 14, 43-42. But LSU (9-2) has wins over Ole Miss and Alabama, which were ranked in the top seven nationally at the times of the games.

“There’s reasons for USC to be at 5. There’s reasons for LSU to be at 5,” CFP chairman Boo Corrigan said in an ESPN interview. “As we looked at it, (LSU’s) wins over Alabama and Mississippi carried the day more so than (USC’s) wins over UCLA and Oregon State. … The good win that (USC) had on Saturday was 48-45. I think some of the members of the committee, as we looked at it, wanted to see a little bit more from their defense, as well as the overall strength of schedule from LSU.”

Each top-four team stayed in place after a nail-biting week. Georgia went on the road and beat Kentucky 16-6; Ohio State rallied from a halftime deficit to top Maryland 43-30; and Michigan and TCU needed last-second field goals to beat Illinois and Baylor, respectively.

Second-ranked Ohio State hosts No. 3 Michigan on Saturday.

The quartet are the only four unbeaten teams left in FBS.

1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan
4. TCU
5. LSU
6. Southern California
7. Alabama
8. Clemson
9. Oregon
10. Tennessee
11. Penn State
12. Kansas State
13. Washington
14. Utah
15. Notre Dame
16. Florida State
17. North Carolina
18. UCLA
19. Tulane
20. Ole Miss
21. Oregon State
22. UCF
23. Texas
24. Cincinnati
25. Louisville

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers running back Noah Cain (21) rushes against UAB Blazers linebacker Noah Wilder (50) during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 LSU pounds out 31 first downs, clobbers UAB

Noah Cain ran for three touchdowns, and John Emery Jr. and Jayden Daniels ran for one each as No. 6 LSU defeated visiting UAB 41-10 in a nonconference game Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.

Daniels ran for 111 yards and completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown as the SEC West champion Tigers (9-2) won their fifth consecutive game. Malik Nabers caught seven of those passes for 129 yards.

Dylan Hopkins completed 14 of 29 for 158 yards for the Blazers (5-6), who remained winless in five road games this season. DeWayne McBride, who was averaging 141 rushing yards per game, finished with just 34 yards on 13 carries.

LSU outgained UAB 565 yards to 259 and had 31 first downs, converting 11 of 13 third downs.

Daniels rushed 2 yards for a touchdown that increased LSU’s 28-10 halftime lead to 34-10 at the end of the third quarter.

He threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas Jr. to complete the scoring early in the fourth quarter.

On the first possession of the game, LSU drove 79 yards and Emery ran 2 yards for a touchdown on third-and-goal.

Jermaine Brown Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Tigers 30. Three plays later, McBride ran 5 yards to tie the score and increase his school single-season record for rushing touchdowns to 18.

Cain ran 5 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing possession that gave LSU a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Matt Quinn kicked a 29-yard field to pull the Blazers within 14-10.

The Tigers were in position to increase the lead when Emery lost a fumble at the UAB 8, the first of two fumbles he lost in Blazers’ territory.

But LSU added to the lead later in the quarter when Cain’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 21-10.

Cain added another 1-run touchdown run to push the lead to 28-10 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Head Coach Brian Kelly talking with Malik Nabers on the sideline as the LSU Tigers take on the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.Saturday October 22, 2022

Lsu Vs Ole Miss Football V1 7925

No. 6 LSU continues climb with SEC title shot secured

LSU’s four consecutive SEC wins secured the West Division title and a spot in the conference championship game against top-ranked Georgia.

But the No. 6 Tigers (8-2, 6-1) still have regular-season work ahead the next two weeks.

They will conclude their home schedule when they step out of conference play to face UAB on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La. Then they will visit Texas A&M before heading to Atlanta for the title game Dec. 3.

LSU was unranked entering its first season under head coach Brian Kelly. As soon as it appeared in the rankings or the first time, LSU was whipped by then-undefeated Tennessee 40-13. But the Tigers haven’t lost since, producing one of the most surprising seasons in college football.

Kelly said his focus this season was on building a foundation, not necessarily seeking a specific number of victories or titles.

“I didn’t put any wins or losses on this team,” Kelly said. “I put, ‘I want to play hard, I want to be better in November, I want to teach them how to win’. I think we’ve hit all of those markers, and that’s kind of where I wanted this program to be. I think we’re at where we should be at this time.”

After upsetting Alabama 33-32 in overtime two weeks ago, the Tigers went to Arkansas last week and struggled before edging the Razorbacks 13-10. They wrapped up the West a few hours later when Alabama held off Ole Miss.

“Winning is a habit and losing is a habit,” Kelly said. “What we can take out of that game is they have done the things necessary to make winning a habit. They found a way to win that football game.”

UAB (5-5, 3-4 Conference USA) needs a win in its final two games to become bowl eligible. It’s coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season, a 42-21 triumph against North Texas in the home finale.

The Blazers finished 5-1 at home and are 0-4 on the road. But all of the road losses – against Liberty, Rice, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic – have been by seven or fewer points. Their lone home loss was a 44-38 set-back against UTSA in double overtime.

“Every loss came down to the end and we had opportunities to either win the game or tie the game, and that’s tough,” first-year coach Bryant Vincent said. “It challenges your character, it challenges your mentality, and that’s something that this football team has never strayed from.”

The Blazers rank 29th nationally in yards allowed (338.4 total yards per game).

In the victory against North Texas, DeWayne McBride rushed for three touchdowns, giving him a school-record 17 this season. He has 10 straight 100-yard rushing games and UAB ranks sixth in the FBS with 247.1 yards per game. McBride is second with 1,407 yards.

“We realize that we’re going into Tiger Stadium in a night game,” UAB coach Bryant Vincent said. “They’re ranked sixth in the country, they’re going to play for the SEC championship. This is a game that our players and this football team, we’re not going to back down.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers running back Noah Cain (21) is tackled by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back Hudson Clark (17) and linebacker Bumper Poole (10) during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Williams, strong defense lift No. 7 LSU past Arkansas

Josh Williams rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown to help No. 7 LSU record a 13-10 win over Arkansas 13-10 on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive game to move to the brink of the SEC West title. They can clinch by winning at Texas A&M in two weeks.

Arkansas (5-5, 2-4) played without starting quarterback KJ Jefferson, who has been hampered by a shoulder injury. Malik passed for 24 yards and ran for 37 before being replaced by Cade Fortin, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Hornsby slipped and fell for a 12-yard loss while trying to avoid three LSU defenders on a 4th-and-2 play, giving the Tigers a first down at the Razorbacks’ 40.

Jayden Daniels’ 26-yard completion to Kayshon Boutte set up Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run that gave LSU a 13-3 lead with 5:25 left in the quarter.

Fortin drove the Razorbacks 94 yards, the last 40 of which came on a touchdown pass to Matt Landers that cut the lead to 13-10 with 13:17 left in the game.

Freshman linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. ended Arkansas’ final chance when he recorded his fourth sack of the game, forcing Fortin to fumble the ball that the Tigers recovered at the Arkansas 44.

The Razorbacks took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter when they drove 46 yards to set up Cam Little’s 28-yard field goal.

On the second play of the ensuing possession, Latavious Brini recovered Daniels’ fumble, setting up Arkansas at the Tigers’ 10.

On a 4th-and-goal from the 3, Hornsby was stopped for no gain, leaving the Razorbacks with a 3-0 lead at the end of the quarter.

Hornsby fumbled and BJ Ojulari recovered for LSU at the Arkansas 37. The Tigers gained one first down before Damian Ramos kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the score early in the second quarter.

John Emery Jr.’s 32-yard run and Williams’ 9-yard run on 4th-and-1 led to Ramos’ 29-yard field goal that gave LSU a 6-3 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Brian Branch (14) tackles LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 LSU stuns No. 6 Alabama with 2-pt conversion in OT

Jayden Daniels threw two touchdown passes, ran for a touchdown and passed for a winning two-point conversion as No. 10 LSU beat No. 6 Alabama 32-31 in overtime in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.

Daniels passed for 182 yards, rushed for 95 and connected with Mason Taylor for the winning conversion as the Tigers (7-2, 5-1 SEC) took the lead in the SEC West.

Bryce Young passed for 328 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tide (7-2, 4-2), who lost for the second time in three games.

Alabama got the ball first in overtime and Roydell Williams ran 1 yard for a touchdown and a 31-24 lead.

But on the Tigers’ first play, Daniels ran 25 yards for a touchdown and coach Brian Kelly decided to go for the win and Taylor barely crossed the goal line after catching Daniels’ pass.

Alabama’s Will Reichard kicked a 46-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime after the lead changed hands six times in the second half.

Daniels had thrown a 7-yard touchdown pass to Taylor to give LSU a 24-21 lead with 1:47 left.

On the first possession of the third quarter, Alabama converted two fourth-and-1s on its way to Reichard’s 38-yard field goal that gave it the lead for the first time, 9-7.

LSU responded on the ensuing possession with a 75-yard drive that ended with Josh Williams’ 2-yard run for a 14-9 lead with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

The Tide drove 76 yards and Roydell Williams’ 2-yard touchdown run gave them a 15-14 lead with 12:37 remaining.

The Tigers drove to Damian Ramos’ 32-yard field goal that gave them a 17-15 lead with 6:52 remaining.

Young’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks on third-and-10 put Alabama back on top, 21-17 with 4:44 left.

LSU took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter when Daniels threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to John Emery Jr.

Reichard kicked a 29-yard field goal and added a 36-yard field goal as time expired in the first to pull Alabama within 7-6 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban talks to quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the second half against the UL Monroe Warhawks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 LSU eyes rise in West, upset of No. 6 Alabama

First place in the SEC West will be at stake when No. 6 Alabama visits No. 10 LSU on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.

The Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1) can seize control of the West by beating the Tigers (6-2, 4-1), then winning next week at No. 11 Ole Miss, the only other team in the division with just one loss. That defeat came against LSU two weeks ago.

Alabama and LSU were off last week and landed in the top 10 of the initial College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday. A rise in the West standings and the rankings is part of what is at stake Saturday.

“This game has always got significant implications,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “They’re always ranked, we’re always ranked. It’s kind of a rivalry game that’s always a really important match-up.”

Alabama lost to then-No. 6 Tennessee 52-49 three weeks ago before bouncing back with a 30-6 home victory against Mississippi State a week later.

“You never know how a bye week’s going to affect a team,” Saban said. “Hopefully, it gave us a chance to get some guys healthy. I think psychologically, it gives you a chance to sort of recalibrate a little bit, get a little break.

“The focus is so important, I think, regardless of whether you’re coming off a bye week or you’re playing week in and week out, to be able to sustain that, recapture it, regain it, momentum, whatever you want to call it.”

After giving up 567 total yards and five touchdown passes against Tennessee, the Alabama defense was much improved against Mississippi State, but the offense managed just two field goals in the second half and finished with 29 rushing yards on 27 carries.

“Obviously it wasn’t very good in the last game,” Saban said of the running game. “We’ve got to have a little more diversity in what we’re doing as well as being able to execute it a little better on a more consistent basis.”

The Tigers have been playing better of late in their first season under former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

They won at Florida 45-35 before beating previously undefeated Ole Miss 45-20 in their last two games before the break.

“You have to take this game and think about how you got here,” Kelly said. “We’ve done it by our preparation. We have focused on playing our best when our best is needed.

“Our best players are going to have to play well, we’re going to have to play consistently for four quarters. We must get off to a good start because we’ve shown we’re going to play well in the second half.”

The Tigers have yet to score first in an SEC game, but they have bounced back to win each game except a 40-13 loss to Tennessee.

They weren’t expected to be contending for the division title this late in the season, coming off a 6-7 record last season and a 5-5 record in 2020.

Those seasons in the wake of the 2019 national championship season led to the firing of Ed Orgeron and the hiring of Kelly. LSU beat the Tide 46-41 on its way to that title, but that’s the Tigers’ only victory over Alabama in the last 11 meetings.

“This is why you come to LSU,” Kelly said. “This is why I came to LSU. It’s not pressure, it’s a privilege to play in games like this.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers fans storm the field after LSU defeated the Mississippi Rebels at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU fined $250K for fans storming field

The Southeastern Conference fined LSU $250,000 on Sunday because the school’s fans stormed the field after Saturday’s 45-20 victory over then-No. 7 Ole Miss.

The violation was LSU’s third of the policy. The school’s most recent violation had been after a win over then-No. 2 Georgia in 2018.

In a news release, the SEC said that the policy stated that “access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area. It is the responsibility of each member institution to implement procedures to ensure compliance with this policy.”

Fines start at $50,000 for a first offense, up to $100,000 for a second offense and up to $250,000 for a third and any subsequent violations.

The fine comes one week after the SEC fined Tennessee $100,000 for its fans rushing of the field after an upset win over then-No. 3 Alabama. Tennessee fans took the goalposts and deposited them into the nearby Tennessee River.

LSU (6-2, 4-1 SEC) was unranked prior to the win over Ole Miss. It is now ranked 18th.

–Field Level Media

LSU Tigers running back Josh Williams (27) throws a stiff arm to Florida Gators cornerback Jaydon Hill (23) in the second half at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, October 15, 2022. LSU defeated the Gators 45-35. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Lsu Tigers

LSU looks to hand No. 7 Ole Miss first loss

It was just two weeks ago that LSU hosted a top-10 team in a Southeastern Conference game.

Things didn’t go well for the Tigers, as then-No. 8 Tennessee rolled to a 40-13 victory.

But LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC) has a chance to redeem itself on Saturday when No. 7 Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0) makes the trip to Baton Rouge, La.

“Nobody really wants to be learning lessons after a loss,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “But they learned a lot about intentionality and purpose in terms of their preparation.

“I think two weeks later, it’s — I don’t want to say a different team, but it’s a team that has confidence. It’s a team that knows that if they don’t play clean, if they don’t have an attention to detail, they’ll have similar results that they did against Tennessee.”

The Tigers bounced back from the loss to the Volunteers to win on the road against Florida last week, 45-35, in what Kelly called the team’s “best performance offensively.”

Jayden Daniels threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more.

“Now we got to be consistent,” Kelly said. “Can’t do it one week and then turn it off the next week and expect to win.”

The Tigers had a 528-395 advantage in yards but allowed enough explosive plays to keep the Gators in the game.

LSU gave up a 51-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the contest and a 39-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter. An 81-yard TD scramble by Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson on the first play of the fourth quarter helped cut a 42-21 deficit to 14 points, and the Gators brought it to within seven before the Tigers kicked a late field goal.

“We just have to be better at tackling,” Kelly said.

If LSU doesn’t tackle better, it’s going to have a difficult time slowing down Ole Miss’ high-powered offense. The Rebels lead the SEC in rushing offense (271.4 yards per game) and are fourth in total offense (502.9).

Ole Miss had 448 rushing yards and three scores on the ground in a 48-34 victory against visiting Auburn last Saturday.

“Obviously, you’ve got to be realistic at any level, but especially the SEC,” Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said. “That’s not going to happen (every week).

“We’ve got to be consistent and run the ball really well. The numbers aren’t going to be like that every week. People coach. They gear up to stop certain plays once you run them. It’s not like we were just running normal inside zone and making all those yards.”

Ole Miss, like LSU, allowed a series of big plays that kept its opponent in the game. The Rebels saw a 21-0 lead shrink to four points before they regained control.

Auburn’s Tank Bigsby ran 50 yards for a touchdown and had another 50-yard run that led to a field goal.

Additionally, Auburn had pass completions of 32, 46 and 28 yards that led to touchdowns.

“We jumped out of some gaps and missed some tackles,” Kiffin said. “That’s usually what goes on in the run game for explosive runs.”

The Rebels are the only team in the SEC West that hasn’t lost a conference game, but LSU (tied with Alabama at 3-1) can match their record with a victory Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) stiff arms Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Aaron Beasley (24) as he tries to tackle him during the second half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Seeking faster start, LSU takes on Florida

LSU and Florida typically are ranked when they renew their annual rivalry.

This time around, though, both the Gators and Tigers will be sitting outside the Top 25 when they square off in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday in a battle of two teams still trying to find their footing under new head coaches.

LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC) is in its first season under former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, while Florida (4-2, 1-2) is now under the direction of former Louisiana head coach Billy Napier.

The Tigers had won four in a row and were ranked No. 25 before losing in a 40-13 rout at home to then-No. 8 Tennessee last Saturday.

“We’re right in the middle of the process,” Kelly said. “We’re working at it every single day, and it’s a journey. I’m excited to be on it.”

LSU has dug itself an early hole in all three SEC games. Against Tennessee, the Tigers lost a fumble on the opening kickoff, which led to a touchdown, and they trailed 20-0 in the second quarter. Jayden Daniels’ 300 passing yards weren’t never enough for LSU.

“We certainly can’t start the way we did,” Kelly said. “The great part about it is you get to flip the script and get back to work, which we do that (Monday) and get ready for a trip to Gainesville and a very difficult place to play on the road.”

The Gators gave Napier his first SEC win when they held off visiting Missouri 24-17 last Saturday. Montrell Johnson Jr. ran for 86 yards and a touchdown on eight carries to pace Florida.

Like Kelly, Napier stressed that the Gators are in the early stages of establishing a new version of the program.

“You probably would have taken 4-2 at this point in the season,” he said. “How we got to this point is the problem. We have not executed our formula to win games at the rate at which we desire at any point. I think we are very much a work in progress.

“(Still) I’m proud of the intangibles that we’ve developed with this group of players. Every day I’m here, the more I’m confident about what we can accomplish.”

The Gators possess a 33-32-3 edge in the all-time series with the Tigers, but LSU has won the past three matchups.

–Field Level Media